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Hawke's Bay Airport Chief Executive Departs For Overseas Role.

Hawke’s Bay Airport (HBAL) chief executive, Stuart Ainslie, has advised the HBAL board that he’s leaving the company to take on an overseas role.

Mr Ainslie, who has been with HBAL for four-years, will be leaving at the start of December to take on a Group Chief Operating Officer role for a company that services airports across the Middle East and North Africa.

Hawke’s Bay Airport board chair, Wendie Harvey, says while she’s disappointed Mr Ainslie has decided to move on, she wasn’t surprised when he told her he was leaving.

“With his experience, we knew we wouldn’t have him forever and he’s been offered a huge role. For the time he has been with us, he’s achieved some great things and surmounted some significant, unexpected challenges, Mrs Harvey says.

Mr Ainslie took on the HBAL role soon after the previous chief executive, Nick Story, passed away due to illness and during his time with the company he’s ensured the redevelopment of the terminal continued when the construction company was liquidated and then managed the airport through a global pandemic.

“It’s extraordinary what he’s navigated the Airport through. And despite all of that, he’s doggedly kept his eye on the horizon, building the airport’s resilience for the future. He leaves a great foundation for the next chief executive to build from.”

During his tenure with Hawke’s Bay Airport, Mr Ainslie has overseen the:

  • attraction of a second airline, Originair;
  • development of Hawke’s Bay Airport’s redeveloped airport terminal;
  • completion of a 20-year master plan;
  • retention of air traffic control services during a national Airways review;
  • implementation of a decarbonisation plan, which includes a commitment to HBAL being carbon neutral by 2030 and the Attaining Level 2 of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme;
  • completion a feasibility study into a 24.2 megawatt solar farm;
  • launch of business park, Ahuriri Aeropark, located within the airport precinct; and
  • forged stronger relationships between HBAL and its shareholders, partners and stakeholders, in particular mana whenua.

“Not only has he set the airport on a positive trajectory, but Stuart has also rolled up his sleeves up and participated in the region – particularly showing leadership in the sustainability space.”

Mr Ainslie is the former Art Deco Trust chair, current ExportNZ – Hawke’s Bay chair, NZ Airports Association executive board member, and has created partnerships between the airport and Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay, EECA, Willis Legal (to create the BikePort), Nourish for Nil, the Yarny Army and the Art Deco Festival.

Stuart Ainslie says it’s been a pleasure working with the board and the airport team to make some real change for the organisation however, after careful consideration, the opportunity was too good to turn down.

“The role itself will be an exciting challenge but a big attraction of being based in the UAE is that we’ll be better connected to our family in New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and Germany. We’ll be closer to our kids and our grandkids and, in this tumultuous world, it’s hard to say no to that.”

He says his key highlight during his time at Hawke’s Bay Airport has been the joy of opening the airport terminal to the public “…and hearing the many positive comments about the new space, ambience and experience.”

Recruitment for a new chief executive will commence later this month.


For more information:

Erin Harford-Wright

Frank Engagement

P: +64 27 870 4884